Novak Djokovic beats Karen Khachanov to advance to 45th Grand Slam semi-final

Novak Djokovic, the No. 3 seed, rallied after a set beating No. 11 Karen Khachanov 4-6, 7-6 (0), 6-2, 6-4 on Matchday 10 of Roland Garros. It was Djokovic’s 45th career Grand Slam semi-final, one shy of Roger Federer’s current record of 46.

It was immediately apparent that Khachanov had not only come to play, he had come to win. His serve wasn’t at his best, but his returns were blistering, leaving Djokovic with very little time to react. Khachanov noticed that Djokovic got off to a slow start and spent the entire first set sending a barrage of tennis balls at 80 mph.

Trailing 5-3 with the opening set on the line, Djokovic took a stand, fending off several set points to earn a tied game, but that’s all he got. Constantly off balance and struggling to find his form, Djokovic couldn’t get past Khachanov and started the second set 1-0.

PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 06: Novak Djokovic of Serbia wins against Karen Kachanov (not seen) in the men's singles final match on day ten of the 2023 French Open at Roland Garros stadium in Paris, France on June 06, 2023. (Photo by Mine Kasapoglu/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE – JUNE 06: Novak Djokovic of Serbia wins against Karen Kachanov (not seen) in the men’s singles final match on day ten of the 2023 French Open at Roland Garros stadium in Paris, France on June 06, 2023. (Photo by Mine Kasapoglu/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

But Khachanov’s intensity receded in the second set. He was blasting fewer winners and making more unforced errors. Djokovic was still not in top form, but he was getting there. He found ways to capitalize on the change in Khachanov’s game, dueling against a 6-6 draw. It was unclear who would win, especially since Djokovic hadn’t generated a break point in straight sets. But then he completely dominated the tiebreaker, scoring seven points and winning the set before Khachanov scored a single tiebreaker point.

The announcers expected Djokovic to completely take over after winning the second-set tiebreaker, and he did. The first game of the third set lasted nine and a half minutes and contained five twos, but after winning that he was off to the races. He won the set 6-2 in just 42 minutes.

Khachanov was still struggling with his serve in the fourth set, but had to do something or he was going to lose quickly. Khachanov started to give more speed to his returns after Djokovic won the first two games, winning the third game and fighting well in the fourth. This good fight included that stunning point, which Khachanov won despite losing the match.

Despite the increasingly long odds, Khachanov kept fighting. And Djokovic’s choice to play aggressive started to backfire. He made several unforced errors which only angered him and made more errors to blow up the game and let Khachanov equalize at 4-4.

But that was Djokovic’s last mistake. It took him just three minutes and 32 seconds to win his fifth and sixth matches, winning the set and the match.

Djokovic will face the winner of Tuesday’s second quarter-final, either Carlos Alcaraz or Stefanos Tsitsipas.

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